“We had to just about chain him down,” said Bryant Hornets head football coach Buck James. “He was hurt but he wanted to play so bad.”
James was talking about linebacker Antonio Todd.
“I played half my ninth-grade season but got hurt,” Todd recalled. “I broke my hand. I sat out my sophomore year. Eleventh grade was probably my best year. I was one of the leading tacklers.”
Indeed, the Todd, as a junior, got in on 81 tackles with seven tackles for loss, three sacks, a pass break-up, a forced fumble, a recovered fumble plus an interception that he returned for a touchdown against the rival Conway Wampus Cats.
“Senior year, I got hurt during the summer, came back and just tried to do my best to help the team,” he related. “I had a torn meniscus, had surgery, came back; tore a muscle in my calf. Then, during the season, I re-tore my meniscus, but I played through it. I continued to work hard. That’s what Coach James wanted. And I kept playing.”
He still came through with 56 tackles, fifth on the team, with 11 tackles for losses (second on the team) and two sacks.
As a result, on Wednesday, National Signing Day, he joined Hornets’ teammate Rondale Messer in signing on to continue his education and his football career at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.
“Antonio, if he hadn’t got hurt this summer at the tryout camp, there’s a lot of people that would’ve had a chance to get him,” James related. “I think he’s in the model of (Marvin) Moody (now at Tulane) last year. He has sort of the same kind of body. He just hasn’t gotten as big and strong, with playing basketball and missing a lot of the weight room over his career.”
“I had two other major options, Lyon College and Bethany (College) in (Linsborg) Kansas,” Todd said. “But it didn’t feel like home like Henderson.
“I visited the campus during the summer and it felt like home,” he continued. “It felt like another Bryant. And I’m pretty sure, going with Rondale and others, will keep it that way. And going to Bryant was very special our senior year.”
“He covers really well,” said James. “He reads stuff in space and does a really good job. As he grows and matures and gets stronger, I think this guy can be an all-American. I think he has all the intangibles. He just needs a chance to grow and get bigger and stronger.
“We’re not yet where we need to be physically,” the coach said of his program, “but we’ve still got guys that are getting looks in the college game because of their tenacity and their ability to make plays. I think Antonio’s one of those guys.”
Asked about what the HSU coaches’ plans for him are, Todd said, “I’m going as a preferred walk-on but, I talked to the coach and he said he liked me and he said he’s pretty sure that I can come in and make a great impact and earn my scholarship and play right away if I come in having taken care of my business.”
Of course, taking care of business is what Antonio Todd does.